PedanticTurkey

Super Member
1,933
If you've got Coffin's book, next get his DVD--for $15 it's a pretty good deal. He shows you how to use a felling foot, rolled hem foot, etc., one technique for inserting the sleeves. I would take some of what he says with a grain of salt, though--like the way he attaches collars/cuffs, the way he stretches the inside to shape them while sewing, etc. Overly complicated in my (brief) experience.

Mike Maldonado has a bunch of videos demonstrating various techniques, including one on collar making (which also shows you how to attach the collar, it's worth the $30 just for that...). They're all worth watching and don't cost much (google it). He's got 15 of them available for free on his website (click "Shirt Tutorials" in the "Sponsors" box at the bottom to see the free videos. Maldonado also does custom patterns -- or at least, he used to -- I don't know if he still does -- but I'm sure he'd hook you up with a student or the like to make a pattern using your measurements--with the seam allowances all included. He also gave me a DVD with a bunch of his old shirtmaking videos on it.

Then, let's see--what do you need:

A sewing machine, needles, thread (see this thread), a pair of good fabric shears ($30 or so, get 10"... I got 8", too short). A washable fabric marker--$2 at wal-mart. A see-through ruler--$5 (get one that's something like 3"x18" and not a purple one if your washable marker is purple!). Some muslin broadcloth to practice with ($1.50 yard locally, you'll need about 2.5 yards to do a shirt if it's 45" cloth, so get 10 yards). Once you get past there, you can order shirting fabric from somebody like Philips Boyne or Acorn. A point turner for the collar ($3), a seam ripper ($2), some pins (though you really don't need them much) -- $2, a yard stick ruler $3. I'd use poster board (the large white ones from Wal-Mart that're $0.50 each) for pattern making. The only thing that's really hard to find would be a felling foot and a hemming foot (your sewing machine should have a hemming for especially made for it, felling foot could be harder--try the dealer first, then ebay or somebody else). You'd want a 4mm hemming foot, 6mm hemming foot, 4mm felling foot, 6mm felling foot. Figure about $15 each, maybe less. If you just want one of each, get the 6mm for now. If you have a zigzag machine that can put the straight-stitch needle position anywhere, you can use the zigzag foot as a "quarter inch" foot for top-stitch, etc.

Maldonado has a free video showing tools that you might watch if I've left anything out, which I'm sure I have.
 
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andy b.

Senior Member
788
United States
PA
Hazleton
PT and Alexander,

Thanks for the replies and info! I have a variety of machines, from an 1872 Singer Model 12 up to more modern zigzag machines and a host of oddballs in between. I made many of my uniform pieces for Civil War reenacting including a Mounted Services Shell Jacket. I'm familiar with a lot of the sewing procedures but I have never sewn a modern dress shirt. I think it would be a fun project. I wonder if anyone else on the forum has attempted to sew any of their own clothes (I'm talking amateurs, not professional tailors).

The first time I read posts here regarding "sack coats" I just kept picturing a bunch of guys running around in navy blue Civil War uniforms. :) The funny thing is, you can definitely see the development of the modern sack coat and how it evolved from the 19th century garment.

Andy B.
 

PedanticTurkey

Super Member
1,933
A few more things, before I forget:

A work surface (I use a 2'x4' piece of plywood, lowes sells them pre-cut, covered with an old blanket and a couple layers of muslin, assembled with a staple gun--make sure you stretch the fabric before stapling...)

An iron and a spray bottle (best to use a small, cheap iron that heats up fast; you really don't need steam)

A stick of water-soluble glue

A sleeve board

A point presser for making the collar (definitely optional)

Don't bother with a rotary cutter, at least not at first.

The most important thing is to start with a good pattern. Once you've got that you'll eventually get everything else. Sator in his "Cutter and Tailor" forum has posted some old books on pattern alterations that should get you through any minor changes you'll need to make in the future. But start with a pattern that's drafted and trued by someone who knows what he's doing--it'll save you a lot of headache. Trust me.
 
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andy b.

Senior Member
788
United States
PA
Hazleton
Alexander,

Now THAT was cool of you!!!!! I have to dig out some of the custom-woven cotton fabrics in my Civil War shirting material and see what I come up with. I have some awesome blue and red striped material that would make a great winter button-down. The hardest part for me will be the collars. My CW stuff all has simple band collars.

Andy B.
 

PedanticTurkey

Super Member
1,933
Get Maldonado's $30 collarmaking video. It's really easy to adapt it to making a button-down collar without interfacing (i.e., you just trace the collar w/o seam allowances onto the wrong side of the fabric and go to it). Just be careful that you don't stretch the points out of shape when you turn them.
 

Concordia

Advanced Member
2,647
United States
Massachusetts
Newton
Some years after this thread has started, finding the HyMark #24 is not easy for amateurs who use Google as their distributor.
Any hints for locating it-- or a good substitute with colors enough to re-sew the buttons onto polo shirts?
 

WA

Honors Member
3,967
United States
WA
Bellingham
A thinner thread can be doubled and waxed (Candle wax is fine. Bees wax is best.) put through a needle and twisted, then run it against a warm hot iron, or between paper and set the iron on top to melt the wax into the thread.
 
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